The Scots' Society of St Andrew, Bedford

Promoting Scottish culture, customs and traditions in and around Bedford


The Society existed to promote interest in Scottish culture, customs and traditions, and the commemoration and exchange of Scottish memories and sentiments with fellow Scots at home and abroad.

We had a varied programme of activities throughout the year and our Society was a member of the East Midlands Association of Scottish Societies (EMASS), which with other member Societies, we joined in the activities of that Association.

Pipes and Dancing

The Society had a happy association with the Bedford Pipe Band which meets for practice weekly, in the centre of town. Members of the band regularly performed at our events throughout the year and if you are interested in joining, or becoming a friend of the Band, please contact the Band Secretary .

The Society was supported by the Bedford Scottish Dance Group which is affiliated to the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society and "Demonstration Dancers" performed annually at President's Evening and other significant events.


The Society was founded in 1931. In the 1930s farming land was scarce in Scotland, the depression years made life more difficult and with no law of succession to guarantee that land would pass from tenant farmer to his sons, it was necessary to look for other opportunities.

Farming land was more plentiful in parts of England and in particular, Essex and Bedfordshire so Scottish farmers moved south, sometimes hiring an entire train to bring their cattle, machinery and furniture.

Amongst these farmers, were William & Jeannie Hope who moved to Essex and then to Manor Farm at Thurleigh in 1939 by which time those who had arrived a few years earlier had already set up this Society of Scots who loved to get together and make their own entertainment, dancing, singing and piping the music of home.

A relatively little known part of Bedford's recent history is the friendly invasion of the town, early in the First World War, by thousands of Scottish Territorial·soldiers of the Highland Division.

Native Bedfordian and piper, Richard Galley is researching this fascinating story and has prepared an illustrated, on-line·article for those who·would like to know more. Richard is keen to gather whatever information he can on the subject and will be very pleased to hear from anyone who has anything to share.